Opinion: Jeff Sessions is antithetical to the diversity on campus

Alexandra Chang, Op-Ed Contributor

Last week, Northwestern University College Republicans announced their fall speaker: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. While Sessions has held many notable positions in politics and government, he is largely known for his tenure as the Attorney General of the United States under President Donald Trump. Because of his career-long history of intolerance and bigotry, I strongly oppose Sessions’ upcoming lecture at Northwestern.

Not only did he actively target the reproductive rights of women, he was also a strong opponent of same-sex marriage and voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” banning LGBTQ people from serving in the military. Furthermore, Sessions has made racist remarks and voiced his approval of the Klu Klux Klan on multiple instances.

As Attorney General, Sessions has systematically targeted rights for transgender people. In 2017, he revoked a 2016 joint guidance made by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice that mandated civil rights protections for transgender students under Title IX. Additionally, Sessions actively used his powers to separate families and incite fear in undocumented immigrants. He supported adding a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Sessions also supported Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program by executive action and made it nearly impossible for immigrants to claim asylum based on “‘domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors.’”

These views should not be tolerated, let alone invited to this campus. I am strongly in favor of inviting academic speakers who can provide an underrepresented perspective, especially because institutions of higher education can often be homogenous in thought. However, it is unjust to fund a speaker whose presence threatens the identities of a significant portion of our student body. Many Northwestern students are undocumented, a part of the LGBTQ community or otherwise identify with an identity that Sessions has oppressed through his legislation.

With today’s political climate, it is difficult to disassociate conservative political thought from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and general intolerance. Nevertheless, it is possible to host a Republican speaker who has not spent their career directly targeting the identities present at this institution. Doing so would contribute to diversity and incite healthy debate across campus. I hope that Northwestern University College Republicans would aim to further intellectual conversation and debate, rather than to actively make minority populations feel unsafe.

Not only did Northwestern University College Republicans cast a blind eye to Sessions’ record when extending this invitation, they have also endorsed his policies by financially backing a message that will directly influence our student body. We should not be giving a platform to any kind of systemic intolerance on this campus.

I highly encourage students who do not agree with his views to protest the event. Already, students are organizing a demonstration during his November 5 lecture to express that his policies, beliefs and values are unwelcome on this campus.

Alexandra Chang is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.